Friday, June 24, 2011

Kale kale kale-y kale kale

Well, I'm back. I many posts in one week...what's a casual reader to do?

As I mentioned yesterday, my goal this summer is to use everything in my CSA every week. This week was our first and it has been challenging because I picked up what equals a whole share even though we usually only get half.

Last night's challenge, was Kale.

Now, I should point out for all you mom-type people who are wondering who the heck has time to do all this shit, that Little G has been gifting me with some awesome afternoon naps of late; the product of a growth spurt and being outside and running around all morning which wasn't an option during the winter. So I have been taking advantage of nap time to get all this cooking prep done. Believe me, the last thing I want is for a reader to inwardly hate me because I seem to have it together enough to not only figure out what is for dinner but actually take pictures of the process. Because I would totally hate that person and inwardly seethe at their cheery how-to-cook-everything-and-have-a-perfect-life posts.

Moving on.

All. That. Kale.

I've tried kale chips before, and have never liked them yet every time summer rolls around I hear about how great kale chips are. "Even better than potato chips", is what my favorite kid food blogger over at Weelicious says...seriously. Go over there and watch her kid devour them like they're candy...perhaps that's what she paid him with if he pretended to like them.

Anyway, I dutifully followed the basic instructions that I have seen all over the interwebs.

Wash and trim off stems of kale, cut into bite sized pieces and salad-spin the heck out of 'em:

Lay pieces out on a lined baking sheet, not too cluttered so they don't just steam, and preheat oven to 375:

Spray with oil - canola, olive oil, sesame...whatever floats your boat:

Sprinkle liberally with salt:

And bake for 15 - 20 minutes, taking care not to let them burn. Here's what they look like out of the oven at 15 minutes. They were perfect. Not burnt. Not steamed. Cooked to perfection.

And they sucked.

NEVER AGAIN will I be fooled into making these because they are awful, awful, awful. Even if you aren't trying to fool your taste buds into thinking they are an unhealthy snack, they are STILL awful. Horridly bitter and while crunchy at first, they quickly regain their softness in your mouth until you are chewing on bitter nastiness for days just trying to get them down. I don't think I'm doing anything wrong...I just think that kale chips are the Emperor's New Clothes of the what-to-do-with-kale options. Ick. Ick. Ick.

I threw them out. But I still consider it a semi-success as far as not tossing stuff from my CSA because 1) I didn't let them rot on my counter and then get thrown away while I sat in indecision over what to do with them and 2) Even after that experiment, I still had all. this. kale:

So, I turned to one of my various favorite what-to-do-with-stuff-from-your-CSA cookbooks. This one is called Clean Food by Terry Walters and I picked it up one day on a whim from my local Whole Foods. It has been a great resource for vegetarian dishes.

I like that the book is laid out by season...which you can see by the color coded pages.

My one drawback with this book is that it uses a lot of items that I don't usually have on hand like special vinegars and seaweeds or flours, etc.

Anyway, there was a simple kale recipe in it that worked out really well for us. After washing the rest of the kale, trimming the stems and cutting it down into bite sized pieces, I blanched the kale in boiling water for three minutes...

...and then put it in an ice water bath to stop the cooking. A quick spin in the salad spinner and I was able to put it aside until it was time to make dinner much later that day.

When it was time to make dinner, I sliced up a bazillion shallots (it called for six, but I only had three large ones):

I caramelized the shallots in some olive oil with a sprinkle of kosher salt for 6 minutes on medium-high:

Then added a tablespoon of lemon juice (note - do not squeeze your lemon over the hot pan like I did and consequently burn the heck out of your hand from the steam):

After a minute, I added the kale that I had blanched earlier in the day and tossed it around for a couple of minutes until it was nice an hot:

Now THIS was delicious. Seriously. Nary a bitter bite in the bunch. My husband loved it. My toddler refused to eat it (but he also refused the left over pasta with meat bake that he usually devours, so who knows what his dealio was). I found the the texture to be a bit rubbery, but without the bitterness that kale is soooooooo fond of lending to dishes, I was just pleased that it tasted so yummy.

Perhaps the best part of this recipe is that I was able to blanch the kale ahead of time, which means that theoretically, I could blanch it and then freeze it and make this yummy side dish over the winter.

So the only thing left this week to cook up is the chard, but I'm actually looking forward to 'doing the usual' with it since we haven't had it since last summer.

Which means that week one was a SUCCESS (except for those damn kale chips).

Please tell me...have you made kale chips and actually liked them? Tell the truth now. Am I doing something wrong or is my palate just not up to the bitter, chewy challenge?


  1. I've never had kale chips, but I've always kind of doubted that they tasted good - so hearing you talk about them was kind of a relief because I thought the whole idea just sounded terrible to begin with!

  2. I only like kale chips when they are VERY crispy - I wouldn't like them at the level you roasted them. I usually let mine roast either 20 mins at 450 or 40 mins at 350 so they're completely crunchy and not bitter. I do really, truly enjoy them like that!

  3. Maybe blanching and then baking into chips? Would that remove the bitterness? I've been very curious about kale chips too...everyone raves about them. Hopefully my CSA will have them at one point and I can try them...and if i hate them, hey, there's always your recipe!

  4. Ok, I've heard eleventy billion people rave about kale chips, and I just don't know if I will ever get on board. I am curious of course, but I haven't pulled the trigger to actually purchase any kale when I'm at the store. I have a feeling I'll eventualy break down I'm wondering: does kale taste somewhat similar to arugula (judging by the fact that they are both rather bitter)...I do love arugula when it's drizzled with

    Anyway, I think that the way you prepared the kale a second time sounds really delish!

  5. I think Christina puts parmesan cheese on hers. Not sure that would redeem them. You know my family's feelings on kale -- even bacon can't redeem it!!

  6. Sugar Scientist - I promise I have tried them even crispier and they were even grosser and more bitter. This time I thought I would cook them less and they were just as bad.

    Katie - kale most certainly does NOT taste like arugula. Arugula is peppery...kale is just bitter. However, cooked well, the bitterness goes away. I promise.

    Sarah - I think bacon fat is my next attempt; thereby completely ruining any healthy benefits of the kale :)

  7. I thought that kale chips would be disgusting, but tried making them last year and got hooked! They're totally indulgent with all the EVOO and balsamic I douse on them, but they're literally candy. But kale is so darn cheap that I make them all the time, and trust me, I couldn't swallow a piece of "normally" cooked kale if you paid me $50.
    I, too, cook them to super crispy levels. 20 Minutes at 450 degrees.

  8. You + Kale Chips = Me + Fiddleheads

  9. We eat SO many homemade kale chips - yum! I guess one woman's trash is another one's treasure...or something. :) We use olive oil and sea salt. I may or may not dip them in ketchup...;) Also awesome for babies: steamed kale and banana puree. My daughter goes nuts for them!

  10. NEW theory is that you all who LIKE kale chips must not be using curly kale. From what I have read, the other types are much more amenable to being eaten 'raw'. Is THIS the case?

  11. Hmm. Maybe the kale is particularly bitter this year? I loved baked kale chips from the batch we got from Stillman's last year.